In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:1–18, NIV)
God loves us so much, he had his son come down from heaven and moved into our neighborhood, where he built a house and lived with us to show us God, our Father.
We know about Jesus as a human who lived on earth, but how does his divinity affect how you view him and what he accomplished by coming to earth?
In what ways does Jesus’ humanity–his coming to live on earth–cause you to appreciate him all that much more? How do you think you would think of Jesus had he NOT come to earth?
How would you respond to people who say we have never seen God?
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
Regardless of what situation we find ourselves in, God is aware of us and wants his good for us.
What words would you use to describe your life when you feel hopeless or without direction? Would you say this is a common feeling for you?
How is your life affected knowing that God wants his good for you?
In what ways do you hope in God?
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13, NIV)
“I like the fact that it mentions that we can always lean on God.”
What sort of things would you like to do for God if you knew that you could not fail in doing so?
When we read through Philippians 4, we discover Paul is focused on being content in any and every situation. How does God’s strength allow us to be content and do “all things” for him?
In what ways have you been strengthened by God?
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
(Zechariah 9:9, NIV)
The coming king comes to us in humility, riding on a donkey (not a powerful stallion!) and brings to us peace.
Describe the image one might expect of a conquering king entering into the land he just conquered. How does this compare or contrast to what you see from the passage we read here?
In what ways does Jesus bring peace into your life?
In what ways can your life bring peace to others?
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3.20-21, NIV)
His power! At work in us! And yes, the glory goes to him!
If you could do anything for God with your life, what would you want to do? How does it feel to know that whatever you can think of, God can do even better?
How does it change your perspective to know that the life you live is powered by God? In what ways does this help you to think bigger and better than you might otherwise?
In what ways can you glorify God today?
Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked.
“From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”
8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9 Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”
10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.” (Genesis 42:6–11, NIV)
The story of Joseph and his brothers is a joy to read … if you are reading from our perspective. I can imagine that the brothers of Jospeh found no joy in their circumstances, and we will discover, saw their situation go from bad to worse. I wonder if God ever looks at our story and chuckles, since he knows our stories from a better vantage point than our own?
What do you think was going through the minds of Joseph’s brothers as they faced obstacle after obstacle in their quest to get food from Egypt?
Knowing he would reveal himself to his brothers and take them in, why do you think Joseph spent as much time as he did “playing them along?”
How would the lives of the Israelite people been different if Jospeh’s brothers had been faithful to God’s laws? If Jospeh had NOT been faithful to them?
1 Peter 1.13-16
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1.13-16, NIV)
It is crazy to think that we can be holy like God is holy. No matter how hard we try, it seems impossible. Yet, perhaps it isn’t through our effort that we are made holy in the first place.
List all of the images that come to mind when you think of someone who is alert and fully sober.
How holy would you claim you are? In what ways do these verses seem to ask us to do the impossible? If it were impossible, why would we be asked to do it?
How does the hope of God’s grace transform our ordinary lives into holy lives?